Two dead in Gracefield fire
Two people are dead after a massive fire at a home in Gracefield, Quebec.
Police said two bodies were found in the burned out home and that an autopsy would be done. On Thursday, when the flames broke out, police said two minors, aged 2 and 4, were missing.
Family and friends in Gracefield believe the bodies are the two missing children, identified by family and friends as 4-year-old Matthew Courtney, and 2-year-old sister Melanie.
"Matthew was a nice little boy, very intelligent, Melanie, a princess, a nice little girl…lots of love to give,” said family friend Nancy Walker, who has known the children’s father for many years.
“His kids are like my kids, that's why I'm here to help, “she said in tears. “To give all I can give, to help them.”
The children's father and mother, and their eight-month-old baby, were taken to a Maniwaki hospital about 40 kilometers away. Police said the three were treated for smoke inhalation and shock. They are said to be in stable condition.
The farmhouse fire began around 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, with firefighters battling the blaze for hours after it began.
The children's grandmother Jayne Courtney says their mother managed to get the eight-month old baby out when the flames erupted, but her two kids were asleep upstairs.
Their father ran up to try and save them.
"He tried to go upstairs to find the children, he couldn't make it, so he broke a window and jumped out the second storey," Courtney said.
An investigation is underway. There is no word yet on what caused the fire, though the children's grandmother says she believes it started in the kitchen, where their mother was cooking French fries at the time.
On Friday, people in the community dropped off donations for the family at a grocery mart run by their grandmother.
Donations including clothing, baby gear and household items can be dropped off at the Gracefield Mini Mart located at 33 Saint Joseph Bouchette St. in Gracefield.
The couple has eight children ranging in ages from eight months to 16-years-old, including the two believed to have died in the fire.
The family home was completely destroyed by the flames.
Gracefield is approximately 90 kilometers North of Ottawa.